GENESIS 3:9-13: “So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man replied, “The woman you gave to be with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate.” So the Lord God asked the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” CSB

OBSERVATION: What will the New Year bring? With only a few days before we ring in another New Year, our thoughts leap forward and are filled with hope and anticipation. Perhaps the past year was not all we had hoped it would be. Yet, a clean slate lies before us – as long as someone or something else doesn’t mess it up!

Built into the fabric of our broken spiritual DNA is a common flaw that makes its way into the Biblical narrative very early on. It is the common flaw of what we call “passing the buck.” It is our tendency to blame everything on someone or something else, rather than taking personal responsibility for our own actions. It started in the Garden and continues on to this day.

The Garden of Eden was much like a New Year. It was a clean slate filled with wonder and possibility. Every opportunity was given to Adam and Eve, including the freedom of choice. It was this freedom of choice that was misused. When they fell prey to the deceptive lies of the serpent (Satan), they made the wrong choice and ate from the one tree that they were told not to eat from. This choice changed everything!

So how did they deal with this bad choice? When confronted by the Lord they immediately began to blame each other. Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent. Neither of them was willing to take personal responsibility for their actions and for the consequence of these actions. This broken pattern continues to this day. It can really have an impact on how we enter into the New Year.

Now, this is not to say that everything that happens in life is due to a choice. However, regardless of the source of the things we face in life, we have a choice on how we respond to these things. If we deal with every challenge or setback by blaming others we will never find the pathway to overcome the obstacles we face. To make oneself the victim in every situation is to keep oneself in a perpetual state of brokenness. Even when I am the victim, I still have a choice. I can choose the pathway toward healing, or I can allow myself to be overcome by the victimization. The power of choice can never be taken away from me.

This is especially true when it comes to broken patterns of sin in my life. Every one of us has a personal area of weakness and struggle that we face. It is easy to point the finger at other people, our upbringing, or society for our failures. Yet, the failure to face our own personal responsibility will keep us trapped in this cycle of sin. Instead of overcoming the sin, we find ourselves rationalizing it, justifying it, and living with it. Yet, it continues to sap our spiritual strength and limit our fellowship with the Lord and one another.

When we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ the power of sin over our lives is broken. This does not mean that we will never sin again. However, it does mean that we now have a choice when it comes to sin. By the grace of God, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can choose – not to sin!

  • “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be rendered powerless so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, since a person who has died is freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him, because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over him. For the death he died, he died to sin once for all time; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires.” Romans 6:6-12 CSB

Paul is not talking about our physical death. He is speaking of our spiritual rebirth through our death to sin. Without Christ we are powerless over the pull of sin in our lives. We are destined to fail, and will live in a cycle of guilt, shame, and passing the buck. However, when we place our faith in Jesus Christ and are born again, we are united with Him in His death and resurrection. The power of sin is broken in our life. We now have a choice to not sin. We now have the choice of living for the Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit!

How should this impact the way we face this New Year? It should help us to embrace our personal responsibility and empower us to make better choices. When we face temptation – we have a choice. When we face disappointment – we have a choice. When we face injustice – we have a choice. When we face sorrow – we have a choice.

In every situation of life – we have a choice!

If we choose to embrace our personal responsibility, if we choose to own our choices, if we choose to confess our sin, and if we choose to confess our need for the Lord, He will always be there to cleanse us, forgive us, restore us, and lead us into the pathway of victory and healing. The New Year can be a year of deepening our walk with the Lord and growing in His victory in our lives. As we look toward its open door – we all have a choice!

  • “This command that I give you today is certainly not too difficult or beyond your reach. It is not in heaven so that you have to ask, ‘Who will go up to heaven, get it for us, and proclaim it to us so that we may follow it?’ And it is not across the sea so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea, get it for us, and proclaim it to us so that we may follow it?’ But the message is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, so that you may follow it…I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, love the Lord your God, obey him, and remain faithful to him. For he is your life, and he will prolong your days as you live in the land the Lord swore to give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 30:11-14, 19-20 CSB

Lord, this New Year, help me to choose You!

Help me to choose Life!

In Jesus Name!

About Kirk's Devotional Journal

Kirk L. Zehnder is the Founder of Resurrection Christian Outreach. RCO is a ministry that promotes the growth and vitality of the local church through speaking engagements, seminars, various media tools, and written curriculum and books. This ministry was started over 35 years ago by Kirk as a means to strengthen the church that he was pastoring. It grew as Kirk began to share these tools with other churches. Today many of the materials are being used by local churches both nationally and internationally. Kirk's Devotional Journal is a result of struggling with Bible reading programs that never seemed to work. Kirk feels the Lord helped him discover an easy-to-follow program to Read, Reflect, Pray, and Journal through the Bible in one year. This program is called L.I.F.E. Unlike other programs there are no dates to follow. You can miss a day and still complete your reading. You never feel like the dates and verses you missed are chasing you. You are free to enjoy your daily Biblical journey and listen to the voice of The Lord. For more information on the L.I.F.E. plan, send an email to rcoutreach@aol.com. Kirk is also available for speaking engagements, seminars, and retreats. With over 40 years of professional business and pastoral ministry experience, Kirk brings a unique combination of practical wisdom, humor, and Biblical insight. If you would like Kirk to speak at your church, school, or ministry, please send an email to rcoutreach@aol.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible to discuss your opportunity.
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